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British Isles 2010

All the things I've seen, places I've been whilst studying throughout the UK and Ireland in summer '10.

Day 33: Dragons and Stones

Scotland Scotland  |  Jun 15, 2010
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 The more time we spend with Michael, the more I’m just amazed at his knowledge at anything having to do with Scotland. 

The ride from Inverness (‘inver’ means ‘end of’ so Inverness translates to at the end of the river Ness) to Orkney was very interesting. The more time we spend with Michael, the more I’m just amazed at his knowledge at anything having to do with Scotland.

On the way to the ferry, we passed through a place called Black Isle. Though it is not an island, it is surrounded on three sides by water almost giving it the illusion that it’s an island. Michael explained to us how it got its name and this story has been my favorite from the trip so far. Apparently, long, long ago there was a dragon that lived on Black Isle (don’t you love it already! Dragons are so cool!). In order to spite the people around him and to keep them from trying to take over his land, the Dragon scorched all the earth—therefore making it black—so that it couldn’t grow any plants and would therefore be less appealing in their eyes. I’m not sure what happened to this Dragon, but after a while its name was reaffirmed. During the plague (aka Black Death) many of the people who were infected were brought to the Black Isle. 

Finally, we got onto our three-hour ferry ride and then arrived at the Orkney Isles. The Orkney Isles aren’t the only islands of Scotland, but they are the most significant (in size).  On the drive to our hostel, we stopped by this bunch of stones. There were about 5 or so of them, some had been weathered and were small and broken, but for the most part they were gigantic! Collectively, they are known as the Standing Stones of Stenness. Some historians think that they were used for ceremonial reasons, but still their existence is mainly shrouded in mystery. Michael told us that they are bigger and older than those in Stonehenge, but since they’re kind of out of the way, no one ever visits therefore no one really knows about them. 

Then we stopped at the little Italian Chapel. Some of the Italian prisoners of war had actually built it by themselves during their seclusion on the Orkney Isles. The architecture and design was really fantastic especially when you consider the harsh times that they were built under. And I really respect that the residents didn’t tear it down during or even after it was built. 

Our hostel was terrible. Benny warned us that after London our lodgings would become more ‘rustic;’ he really wasn’t kidding.

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